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Generational Blending

Generational blending – I recently asked groups of retirees whether they had contemplated moving to a retirement village. For the overwhelming majority the answer was resolute “no” – there were quite a few reasons for this. Moving into a retirement village would mean spending all their time with people of their own age, and they found little appeal in that. They felt a need to be around young people, to gain a different perspective on the world, and to feel more youthful themselves.

When asked how they feel about their kids not leaving home – young New Zealanders tend to stay home much longer these days, and those that leave tend to return intermittently – turns out it’s a double edged sword. On the one hand having the house to themselves is liberating. At the same time being surrounded by young people provides a sense of youthfulness and energy. Their kids have friends drop around and they like spending time with them.

Interestingly, speaking to young people in their 20s, it seems they quite like generational blending – spending time with older people. They pride themselves on being social chameleons, able to fit into many and varied circles. And this includes those older than them. But they don’t do it often. Their assumption is that older people wouldn’t have much in common with them and would not value their company. This is exactly how older people feel about the way younger people feel too.

Over time we will see more generational blending in New Zealand. Especially with the Baby Boomers being so youthful our perception of what it means to be an older person being redefined. Rather than ageing gracefully, as we are accustomed to, the Baby Boomers will age disgracefully.

How well do you mix with different ages? Do you think this is a growing trend?

Organisation with support and information for people over 65: Age Concern

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